Here is the problem with what’s going on in the presidential election:

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (CNN) — At a campaign rally designed to reflect the pastoral beauty of the heartland in autumn — with a stage set up in a red barn overlooking a sweeping field and piles of pumpkins — Sarah Palin warned the audience about the threat of terrorism, and explained that the Republican ticket should be elected because “we know who the bad guys are.”

“Help me, Ohio, to help put John McCain in the White House,” she said. “He understands. He understands you. We understand how important it is that this team be elected. For one thing, we know who the bad guys are, OK?”

That statement elicited scattered shouts of “Obama!” throughout the crowd.

“We know that in the war, it’s terrorists, terrorists who hate America and her allies and would seek to destroy us, and the bad guys are those who would support and sympathize with the terrorists,” she said. “They do not like America because of what we stand for. Liberty. Freedom. Equal rights. Those who sympathize and support those terrorists who would seek to destroy all that it is that we value, those are the bad guys, OK?”

Do I think John McCain is a racist? Certainly not. Do I think Sarah Palin is? Probably not (I just don’t know enough about her). But when you give a speech, and you say, “We know who the bad guys are” and the audience follows by screaming out “Obama!” you have an obligation. It’s not to smile, it’s not to scowl, it’s not to keep going with your chat. It’s to stop, raise your voice and say, “Listen, Barack Obama is not the bad guy. We don’t disagree on the course this country needs to follow, but he is a decent and worthy opponent. No, the bad guys are the terrorists. Blah … blah.”

Of course, Palin said absolutely nothing. Of course.

PS: Received this letter today: “Jeff, shut the fuck up. I bought your god damn book and don’t need your raving about McCain/Palin. Polls show they have no chance of winning so shut up already.” A. Polls show nothing of the sort; B. Thanks for buying the book. C. It’s my blog, punk.